ACU track and field will double its competition and split the team between two tournaments on Friday. While a handful of elite athletes will travel to Seattle to compete at the Husky Classic at the University of Washington, the majority of the team will head to Lubbock for the Texas Tech Red Raider Open.
Only five Wildcats are scheduled to compete in Washington: Reyare Thomas, Daniel Block, Johnathan Farquharson, Darian Hogg and Baptiste Kerjean. They will face fierce competition from the Huskies, a nationally ranked team who is hosting several other highly-ranked squads in its meet on Friday. Among the Cats’ competition are powerhouses such as Oregon State, Hawaii, Nevada, California and Oregon.
The team was slated to face similar competition last weekend at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic, but the trip was cancelled because of weather and road conditions. Friday will give the ‘Cats another chance to prove they can compete with the strongest. Assistant coach Cory Aguilar thinks playing against the best can only make the team better.
“We’ve got to approach every day the same way, trying to improve,” Aguilar said. “Track and field has always been a top program with a lot of history here at ACU, so we have to continue to raise the bar and push ourselves.”
Meanwhile, the Lubbock group will look to repeat its success from the last time the Wildcats visited Tech on Jan. 31, only two weeks ago, when ACU dominated at the Texas Tech Masked Rider Open. The trip included a set of personal bests and several top 10 finishes by the ‘Cats. Top performers included senior Luke Woods, who took first place in the men’s heptathlon. He smashed his previous record, earning a lifetime best of 4,880 points for the Wildcats. Jelani Rainey finished third in the men’s weight throw with a distance of 16.92m. Shalaina Lakey and Lauren Hartwick earned fourth and sixth place in the women’s weight throw with 16.94m and 16.49m, respectively.
Freshman Kenzie Walker also had an impressive turn at the Masked Rider Open, recording the ninth highest women’s pole vaulting height in ACU history and taking fourth place overall in the event. She said the team is primed for competition right now because of their preparation for the upcoming indoor Southland Conference Championships starting on Feb. 25.
“Conference is in two weeks, so we’re really starting to get ready and starting to push in practice,” Walker said. “We’re in-between where we’re getting third or fourth and where we can win a championship. We’re right there. So I’m really excited to go compete and see all the hard work we’ve put in over the last couple weeks.”
The first event for the Husky Classic is scheduled at 4 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 10 a.m. start on Saturday. The Red Raider Open begins at 3 p.m. on Friday.